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Old 21st October 2015, 11:50   #1
TanyaT
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Default Fifa urged to bar favourite for 'crimes against humanity’

Fifa president Issa Hayatou urged to prevent Sheikh Salman from campaigning for "crimes against humanity"

Chaos threatens to engulf the race to succeed Sepp Blatter at Fifa after allegations he aided a crackdown against pro-democracy athletes in Bahrain

By Ben Rumsby, Sports News Correspondent
Telegraph
6:44PM BST 20 Oct 2015


Chaos threatened to engulf the race to become the next president of Fifa after human rights campaigners called for the new favourite for the role to be barred from standing for “crimes against humanity”.

Allegations Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa aided a crackdown against pro-democracy athletes in Bahrain prompted one organisation to write to acting Fifa president Issa Hayatou to urge him to stop the 49-year-old putting his name forward to succeed Sepp Blatter.

The claims could be examined as part of an integrity check to determine the suitability of Sheikh Salman – who denies any wrongdoing – to become Fifa president if he announces his candidacy before Monday’s deadline.

He had been expected to do so after fellow vice-president Michel Platini – who had been the hot favourite – was banned over a £1.3 million suspected criminal payment he received from Blatter.

But Platini was handed a lifeline yesterday when the chairman of Fifa’s ad-hoc electoral committee, Domenico Scala, confirmed his 90-day provisional suspension would not automatically rule him out of standing at the presidential election on February 26.

Yesterday’s developments plunged the game’s governing body into fresh turmoil as it attempted to respond to the crisis of Blatter and Platini’s suspensions by accelerating its reform process at an extraordinary executive committee meeting in Zurich.

In a letter to Hayatou, who chaired yesterday’s meeting in place of Blatter, the Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain organisation wrote: “In 2013, our organisation wrote to Fifa president Mr Joseph Blatter expressing our deep concern over allegations of unethical behaviour conducted by Fifa committee member and president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa. Sheikh Al-Khalifa is a member of the Bahraini royal family and previously served as president of the Bahrain Football Association (BFA).

“As we explained in our previous communications, there is credible evidence that Sheikh Al-Khalifa aided and abetted crimes against humanity while he was president of the BFA. In light of news that Sheikh Al-Khalifa is seeking election as president of Fifa, we write now to urge you to terminate Sheikh Al-Khalifa’s candidacy for this position in the emergency meeting of the Fifa executive committee.”

The letter repeated claims previously made about Sheikh Salman’s conduct following pro-democracy protests in 2011, after which he was accused of examining photographs of protestors and identifying athletes to security forces.

“Security forces used this information to arrest, detain, torture, and publicly defame these athletes,” the letter added.

“Although Fifa initiated an investigation in 2011 into the attacks against the players, the investigation was ostensibly dropped after many of the players were released from prison. Despite the releases, some players remain in detention today. Additionally, many other players are suspended from their club teams and are therefore ineligible to be considered for a spot on the national team.”

Asked about his alleged role in the crackdown when he became AFC president two years ago, Sheikh Salman responded: “I just have one question: You talk about allegations but the question is, do you have the proof?”

“If anybody has the proof that the Bahrain Football Association has violated the statutes of Fifa or AFC, then present it. Otherwise we move on.”

Scala confirmed yesterday that Platini may be allowed to stand for the presidency in February if he is cleared of any wrongdoing before then by Fifa’s ethics committee.

That committee will today reveal some of the names of individuals it is investigating after the ExCo agreed to scrap rules that had kept any proceedings confidential.

The ExCo also welcomed proposals from the governing body’s reform committee that would see future Fifa presidents limited to one 12-year term of office and an age limit of 74 placed on the position.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/foo...-humanity.html
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